When I first started applying for travel-related credit cards, I focused exclusively on airline-branded cards. That was years ago and as a newbie at the time, I missed out on the more lucrative mileage and point-earning capabilities for everyday purchases that more traditional cards offered.
Fast forward several years and I woke up to the true value of loyalty programs offered by the card issuers themselves. I originally focused on Chase products and the Ultimate Rewards program. And I recently signed up for the American Express Platinum card and Membership Rewards.
Why? Because I’m now more flexible in my airline and hotel choices given I’m nearing million-miler status on United and I’m no longer gunning for any particular elite level with a hotel chain. Both Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards each offer great choices on where I can transfer (or use) my points for travel.
Here are my current top three cards:
1. The Platinum Card® from American Express
2. Chase Ink Plus Business Card [Edited June 14, 2013: This card is being updated and the offer described below is no longer available.]
This is my primary business credit card and it gives me 5X points on the first $50,000 spent annually at office supply stores, and on my cell phone, landline, internet and cable TV services. It also gives 2X points on the first $50k for gas station purchases and hotels rooms bought directly with the chain. The current sign-up bonus is pretty good and offers 50,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. And the intro annual fee for the first year is $0, then $95. There’s also the Chase Ink Bold card with similar perks and annual fee with the primary difference being it’s a pay-in-full charge card.
3. Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
This is my primary personal credit card and it gives me 2X points on travel and dining purchases, plus a 7% annual points dividend on all of my points earned. As with the Ink Plus and Ink Bold cards, this card has no foreign transaction fees and also has a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95. If redeeming points directly through Ultimate Rewards, it provides 20% off airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises. The current sign-up bonus is 40,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months.
I receive a referral credit if you successfully apply for a card using the links on this post. I remain grateful to any who apply using those links and thank you for your support of my blog. The decision to apply for credit is yours and includes the responsibility to read and understand all terms and conditions.
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